Monday, April 6, 2009

TEFL Job Scams: Example #1

You've all heard of the Nigerian email scams, right? Well, there's another scam that has worked its way into the TEFL world and functions quite similarly. My friend recently replied to an ad on Craigslist seeking an EFL tutor for a Spanish boy moving to Chicago. The father of the boy gave many details on his level, needs, etc. as well as information on where the family would be living in Chicago. It seemed very legit -- until she received the following email:

"This is to notify you that you have been given a provisional appointment to be the ESL teacher for my child. You are selected based on your experience and passion to teach children.

Please note that the teaching will take place at my residence and i will be arriving precisely May 15th but the lesson starts on Monday May 18th.

Here is what i want to offer you:
1.Teaching for 10hrs/week.
2. That i will be paying you $300/week or $30/hr and $20/week for transportation.
3.Anytime from 3.00pm weekdays and 11.00am on weekends is suitable.

I will send you one of my US cashier check of $1,999 which i bought the last time i came to the US. I will write the check payable to your name so you could cash it at your bank.

I am sending you that much money because of my step-dad's Alzheimer's disease.My step-dad got sick couple of months ago which made me spent lots of money taking care of his medical bills.

The cashier check is for USA which is cashable at your bank and its not cashable here in UK.

As soon as you receive the check, take it to the bank and cash it and deduct $320 which is one week teaching charges with transport fee, also deduct $50 for the purchase of the teaching materials needed for the kid.Please note that i will be responsible for your tax because i am employing you as a private tutor for my kid.

Then send the balance of the money to my ticket agent in London so i can buy the family flight ticket. We are coming from London, UK.

I will like to have your full name and address so that the check can be sent to you as soon as possible.

Accept my congratulations!
Luis Iniesta."

Can you spot the scam? Well, just to be sure, she did a little research online and discovered that another tutor had received an almost identical email regarding a tutoring job in a different city. The name of the "father" was different, but the rest was the same: originally from Spain, currently in the UK, arriving in the US in a few weeks, sending a cashier's check because he had them left over after taking care of his father's illness (not Alzheimer's, but "sickness" in general), and needed the rest sent back to pay for the family's flight ticket.

In case you don't know how these scams work, I'll tell you: The "father" sends a fake cashier's check that looks real enough to be accepted by a bank. It usually takes about 10 days for a cashier's check to clear, but the banks will often give you the cash immediately or within a few days. Later, when they realize it was fake, you have to return the cash to them. So in this case, had my friend accepted the deal, she would likely be out $3,628, because from the original $1,999, she would have sent $1,629 to the guy in the UK and then had to return $1,999 to the bank.

As if tutors don't have it hard enough already. My friend is struggling to make ends meet during the worst recession of her lifetime. She is living day-t0-day, and the last thing she needed was this. First of all, the emotional aspect: After months of failed job applications, she thought she had finally found something, and well-paid enough to cover her monthly rent and living expenses; but then it turns out to be a scam, and she is back to nothing. Secondly, the potential financial whammy: She could have been out $3,628 that she really cannot afford to lose. Thankfully, she sensed something was wrong and did some research before agreeing to this ruse; however, there are some people who, particularly in these times of desperation, might have been too excited at the prospect of a job and money, and might have fallen victim to these horrible, horrible people.

So this is just a warning to EFL tutors around the world to be careful. All you have to do is search "tutor scams" or "ESL tutor scams" online, and you can find hundreds of similar stories. Usually you can spot the scammers, but as time goes on they get better at their "job" and become more convincing. In my next post, I'll talk about another EFL job posting scam that I came across today.


Te said...

It's somewhat sad but my 'scam' radar went off as soon as I read that the 'father' was trusting the teacher to return the leftover cash. Nobody is that trusting. How horrible for your friend, what total scum.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Some people are just SO gullible they deserve to be scammed, but I still hate these buggers as much as you do, dear Musica. Keep up the good work, and expose these bastards!

Lexi said...

Same thing just happened to me. I googled his name and found this. Thanks for posting!!

musica said...

Haha... thanks, TEFL Tradesman.

XWoman: Glad to have helped. These scam artists are so awful -- honest people need to keep an eye out for each other!

Unknown said...

I found a very similar scam through a posting for an ESL tutor on Craigslist. My scam radar went off, too, because of the fact that the mother (a woman named Bethany Ng) was going to entrust me with the leftover money to send to the nanny. Plus, her 10-year-old son was moving from Spain to Seattle for the summer...but was in first grade...Thanks for the heads-up, because this link popped first on my Google search and warned me straight off!!